Gratitude And The Art Of Being Apter

December 4, 2016
by Trapper Tom, Editor, KSWA Digest

Bill Apter is thankful to be a part of the greatest sport the world has ever created. Unlike any other athletic endeavor, professional wrestling transcends ethnicities, races, ages, religions or creeds. Wrestling fans are wealthy, poverty-stricken, and everywhere in between.

Everyone agrees that Bruno is “The Champ,” and friendly arguments continue to this very day as to who carried the 1980’s—Ric Flair or Hulk Hogan. Bill Apter was there for it all—he covered it, photographed it, and helped chronical the action for the masses—and he is thankful for every second of it.

When Bill Apter says, you are a “friend for life,” you can believe it. In his book, “Is Wrestling Fixed? I didn’t know it was broken,” Apter doesn’t bury a soul. Assuredly, he could have, somewhere along the road. But he didn’t. Not everyone in wrestling is altruistic.

When wrestlers had difficulties with what some magazines published, Apter was the peacemaker. From the late 1960’s forward, it would be difficult to find a figure in the media more influential in making a wrestler, manager or promoter. The smart ones thank him for it.

An unabashed fan of the industry, Apter didn’t own the wrestling magazines that were so popular with fans for so many years. He WAS those magazines.

No one could have been more humble and appreciative at that opportunity, and professional life.

When you’re in the wrestling business and you meet Bill Apter, chances are very good that he already knows who you are. He knows everyone you know, or wants to meet them, and doesn’t bury a soul.

“I say Thank You a lot,” he says. And he does. Each and every gratitude is presented with the most sincerity imaginable. When he’s presented with a surprise, it’s an honest response.

When you sit at a meal and his phone rings, it may just be Sammartino returning messages. The two old chums can talk for an hour if given the opportunity. Eavesdropping is a delight.

Whether it’s kidding with a waitress, or chatting with a colleague’s wife, Bill Apter looks for a smile, chuckle and a nod. It’s not new, but it’s refreshing nonetheless.

Behind the scenes, the team representing a major metropolitan city realizes it has fallen behind on a request for a proclamation. Because it is the caliber of someone like Bill Apter, the Mayor himself swings into action and makes the proclamation possible in record time.

Apter is presented with the surprise…a Day in his Honor and induction into the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) Hall of Fame, “Big Bully” Nick Busick and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat go out of their way to both extoll Apter’s virtues in helping their careers flourish. It’s easy to tell that Apter was humbled and grateful.

Whether it be calling on the telephone in one of his countless impressions, or just looking to produce a laugh, Apter is a friend. Whether it’s charming a bar full of patrons with a Boys To Men song on Karaoke, Apter leaves fans—new and old—in wide-eyed awe.

While the biggest wrestling company in the world tries its best to erase historic men and women from its records, it isn’t able to minimize the contributions of those like Bill Apter. Fans of professional wrestling—the most diverse and inclusive of any athletic endeavor on the planet—simply won’t let it happen. There’s too much love and loyalty to the industry, from grandparents to grandkids. Some of the youngest fans in the audience know of Apter because of the boxes of wrestling magazines in their father’s game room.

It’s a curse sometimes, still being held responsible in some eyes for a ranking system that he hasn’t helped compile in years upon years. However, he takes it with a sly smile in stride and warm nostalgia.

The phone will always ring. The social media messages will always be returned. Why hasn’t Apter been inducted to the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum (no associate is more deserving)? It falls on the weekend of his wedding anniversary every year and he has responsibilities elsewhere. He couldn’t be more excited.

He exudes an Attitude of Gratitude. Of course, he’s no Saint, but he is Wonderful Willie. Just ask his son-in-law.

Bill Apter may be the greatest ambassador the world of professional wrestling has ever produced. Thank YOU, Bill Apter.

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